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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 6/25/09

What Next for TortureGate?

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Tomorrow is a national day of action calling for a special prosecutor for those who ordered illegal torture. There is something people are missing here about the TortureGate photos: If releasing the torture photos will endanger national security, that proves the Bush-Cheney administration put us in greater danger.  If we are to accept Obama's argument that those photos are dangerous, then what about the people who ordered it?  How do we deal with those who, as General Anthony Taguba says, were responsible for

"[a] permissive environment created by implicit and explicit authorizations by senior US officials to "take the gloves off"..."

It is important to remember the context in which American soldiers were turned into brutal sadists.  The above image, taken in Iraq, is just one example of how soldiers were taught to link the attacks on 9/11 with Iraqis and the Iraq War. It cannot be counted how many times Bush or Cheney went on national TV to make the firm connection for those who rushed to serve after the attacks, with statements like:

"After the chaos and carnage of September the 11th, it is not enough to serve our enemies with legal papers. The terrorists and their supporters declared war on the United States, and war is what they got." -- In Bush's January 20, 2004, State of the Union address

"We're taking the fight to those that attacked us." --
February 24, 2006, American Legion in Washington, D.C.

"You can't distinguish between Al Qaeda and Saddam when you talk about the war on terror. They're equally as bad. They work in concert,"

Nagem Sadoon Hatab, a 52-year-old Iraqi, was killed in U.S. custody at a Marine camp close to Nasiriyah, Iraq.  After his arrival in June 2003, a number of Marines beat Hatab, including allegedly "karate-kicking" him while he stood handcuffed and hooded.  A day later, Hatab reportedly developed severe diarrhea, and was covered in feces.  Hatab was stripped and examined by a medic, who thought that Hatab might be faking sickness.

Hatab was later dragged outside to make way for another prisoner, covered in his own feces, and left in the sun. He was found dead sometime after midnight.

A U.S. Army medical examiner's autopsy of Hatab found that he had died of strangulation.  The autopsy also found that six of Hatab's ribs were broken and his back, buttocks, legs and knees covered with bruises.  Hatab's hyoid bone, a U-shaped throat bone located at the base of the tongue, was never found.  The bone was a key piece of evidence, because it supported the Army Medical Examiner's finding that Hatab died of strangulation.  Two Marine guards were court martialed, but never served prison time.

Anyone will tell you that at or near the main gate of every military base in Iraq is an image of the Twin Towers.  WMD or no WMD, it was the link in the minds of soldiers who didn't probe too deeply or spend their Sunday mornings watching rebuttals on Meet the Press, which brought out the savagery of human nature when payback is in mind.  I would assert that in the absence of such direct links, even couched the way they were in ambiguity enough to allow for lawyerly defenses later (never having to reach nearly as far as "depends on what you mean by the word "is""), most of these young men could have as much done such things in their normal state as hurt a fly.

The key pieces of evidence cited by Bush in public were:

-- "Zarqawi was in Iraq, proving an Iraq - Al Qaeda connection."  But Zarqawi was in an area controlled by the Kurds.  But the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence concluded that Iraq "did not have a relationship, harbor, or turn a blind eye toward Zarqawi and his associates."  The truth is bin Laden and Saddam hated each other, as Saddam was secular and allowed women to become doctors, and bin Laden considered him an infidel for being an ally of the US for so long.

-- "Atta met with Iraqi Intelligence in Prague, proving the Iraq - Al Qaeda connection."     Cited by Dick Cheney.  But Atta was in a bank ATM in Florida.  The FBI has the security camera photos to prove it.

Colin Powell mentioned Zarqawi no fewer than twenty times in his UN speech, and said Iraq "today harbors a deadly terrorist network" headed by Zarqawi.

The most damning evidence of Bush's duplicity was mentioned briefly during the 2004 presidential debates, then dropped like a hot potato by the media.  This was the overwhelming testimony of soldiers that Bush had bin Laden in his sights at Tora Bora.   If bin Laden were captured or killed, the momentum for Iraq would evaporate.  It emerged briefly on 60 Minutes, a scoop of the century, then never mentioned once on the nightly news headlines.

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Ralph Lopez majored in Economics and Political Science at Yale University. He writes for Truth Out, Alternet, Consortium News, Op-Ed News, and other Internet media. He reported from Afghanistan in 2009 and produced a short documentary film on (more...)

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